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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Redgrave rows into records
Sir Steve Redgrave won a record five golds
Sir Steve Redgrave won a record five rowing golds from 1984 to 2000
Rowing, like sailing, suffered from bad weather the last time Athens hosted the Olympics and the event was scrapped.

As a result the sport's debut year was put back from 1896 to the Paris Games at the turn of the century.

The first record of modern regattas dates from the 18th century before Oxford and Cambridge first locked blades in the University Boat Race in 1829.

Rowing's international federation was founded in 1892 so the lack of action four years later was an anti-climax for such an organsied and established sport.

When the first Olympic regatta was eventually held on the River Seine it was best remembered for including the youngest Olympic gold medallist in Games history when the Netherlands coxed pair ditched their original cox for being too heavy and plumped for a young local lad watching from the sidelines.

After receiving the plaudits on the medal rostrum he disappeared into the crowd again, but while neither his name nor age were confirmed, many observers claim he was under 10, and as young as seven.

At those first Olympics there were four events - single sculls, coxed pairs, coxed fours and the eight.

Over the years events have come and gone and today there are 14 titles on offer.

Women were first admitted in 1976, initially over a 1,000m course, but since 1988 have raced over the same distance as the men, 2,000m.

Vyacheslav Ivanov lost his first gold medal in Melbourne after accidently throwing it in the racing lake in his excitement
A host of athletes have written their name in rowing lore, including the Soviet Union's Vyacheslav Ivanov (1956-64) and Pertti Karppinen (1976-84) who each won three golds in the single sculls.

But their achievements, and those of most Olympians, have been overshadowed by Sir Steve Redgrave.

The Briton won five successive golds between 1984 and 2000, a record for any endurance athlete. He also won a bronze for good measure in 1988.

Redgrave's fifth medal in Sydney helped Briton record their most successful Olympic regatta since 1912, with a second gold coming in the eights, the blue riband event, and a silver in the women's coxed quadruple sculls, the country's first medal for a female crew.

Great Britain were the pre-eminent nation prior to the Second World War, but after a good showing at the 1948 London Games the Soviet block countries began to dominate the medal tables until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

More than a decade on the field is open with Great Britain vying with the likes of Germany, France and Australia in men's rowing.

In the women's field Romania set the standards last time out winning three golds to draw level with East Germany at the top of the medals table.

MEDAL TABLE (Top five)
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Men (since 1900)
USA 28 22 19 69
Great Britain 21 15 7 43
East Germany 20 4 7 31
Germany 16 11 11 38
Italy 13 13 10 36
Women (since 1976)
Romania 13 3 1 17
East Germany 13 3 1 17
Germany 5 2 3 10
Canada 4 4 4 12
Bulgaria 2 4 4 10

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